The allure of eating wood-fired pizza inside a train car at Mt. Hood Brewing Company's Tilikum Station will be clear to many readers: They cook the pizza in an oven, heated by split logs of alderwood from Mt. Hood National Forest. And you can eat it on a train.
Train-lovers are the obvious intended customers of Tilikum Station. If you are someone who hates a lonely whistle or the anxious "bong bong" of a passing rail convoy, this place is not for you. The intersection on which the brewery sits hosts several crossings, from MAX Light Rail and Portland Streetcar to freight and passenger trains. So not many minutes pass without one being immersed in a "clang clang" "honk honk" atmosphere.
On Saturdays, Oregon Pacific Railroad even runs a small passenger train from the Oregon Rail Heritage Center to Oaks Amusement Park and back. The historic locomotive trundles along, right next to the windows of Tilikum Station's charming train car dining areas.
In the pre-pandemic days, people really packed the two cars, but right now their combined might holds about four safely-distanced tables. There's a cafe area inside the restaurant as well, but everyone dining-in obviously wants a seat in the train. Pro tip: If it's warm, you can raise the car's windows, airing out the germaphobe fear we all now carry. This is especially useful if you find yourself—much as I did—in a car full of children with hay fever.
Running into kids is a likely reality at Tilikum Station because it's located right around the corner from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). But during the short period it took me to demolish a wood-fired Margherita Pizza—light char on the outside balancing out a chewy, wood-smoke-kissed dough—I spied train fanciers of all ages enjoying the ambiance. You've got your parents pointing out trains to youths. You've got your youths who definitely see that train. You've got your first date where one person keeps calling geese "ducks," and the other is trying to decide whether or not they're going to correct that.
Tilikum Station's wood-fired pie is tasty enough that I would grip it to-go, even were it not in a train-related setting. It's a terrific size for one person and the wait was almost non-existent. Tilikum Station's menu leans towards classic topping combinations and covered bases. They've got small, cheese pies for finicky children and Marinara pies for vegans. Although the idea of a pizza that is just sauce, olive oil, garlic, and oregano sounds lacking, the quality of ingredients saves the day.
The most adventurous pie is their Alpine, which mixes Applewood bacon and Brussels sprouts on a bed of mascarpone and gruyere cheeses. Impressively, all those flavors still manage to take a backseat to the subtle smokiness of Tilikum Station's wood-fired dough.
Mt. Hood Brewing Co. Tilikum Station, 401 SE Caruthers, (971) 302-7296, mthoodbrewing.com